As in so much of poker, the correct answer, if there is one at all, is “it depends.” How much to bet depends on:
- The stage of the tournament (just beginning, antes, near the bubble, final table)
- Stack sizes (yours, theirs)
- Playing styles (yours, theirs, obvious and not so much)
- Your position at the table
Nevertheless, there are some simple guidelines to think about whenever you wish to “commit chips to the pot.” OK, we need a simpler way of saying that…let’s say INVEST, because that’s what you really are doing – investing some of your stack in order to increase your stack, with the idea that eventually, you’ll have ALL the chips (we call that “winning”).
- You must have a reason for investing (making a bet), whether you’re initiating action, calling action, or raising the stakes. “Obtaining information” isn’t a great reason, by the way.
- You must think about what may happen when you invest – will you be called, raised, or will everyone fold?
- You must already have a plan to deal with all of the potential scenarios. Decide on how you will react in “part two” of your plan BEFORE you initiate “part one.”
- You should use investing (betting) smartly, but not predictably, so that your actions may obtain the maximum advantage.
Therefore, perhaps the most important aspect of bet sizing isn’t the amount of the investment, but “what message does the investment convey to my opponents?” If they can’t figure it out – that’s a GOOD thing. You want to be able to read your opponents, but you don’t want them to read you.
Until we play the game face up, the most information out there is related to betting patterns.
Ergo, how much to invest must have purpose, yet that purpose must not be easily discernible. Wow, no wonder bet sizing is a difficult problem.
Next time, we’ll talk about the simplest bet in this regard – one that many players make without thinking – the continuation bet.